How To Join Amazon Vine, Some Advice

Freelancing can be a good way to earn a bit of extra income.  The question is what kind of freelancing should you engage in?  If you have a full-time job that may prevent you from meeting contractual obligations in a timely manner, you might want to consider writing reviews.  Writing blogs (like the one I just started for instance) is certainly one option.  Writing reviews for amazon is another.

You may have heard of the invitation-only Amazon Vine Program.  That is a program where if you write reviews people consider helpful not only might you be invited to join (and hence receive a variety of items for you to review) but manufacturers might take notice of you and start sending you items directly, bypassing the amazon middle-man.  (I know this because a number of reviewers with whom I correspond and who run their own blogs periodically receive items from manufacturers.)  By now, you may be asking “how do I go about becoming a noticed amazon reviewer?”  This post offers a few pieces of advice based on my own experience.

Join a Reviewer Forum

I started writing reviews for amazon (under my own name) in the year 2000.  And after the initial “Oh look I am published!” thrill of it wore off, I quickly discovered that reviewing, like writing in general, is lonely business.  You don’t see or hear your audience (in this case the people who might be interested in buying whatever it is you are reviewing); you are basically talking to yourself.  By pure chance I stumbled onto a forum amazon used to maintain (and which is sadly now no more).  Everyone there was also a reviewer.  We would gather, chat about this or that, and by-the-by critique one another’s reviews.  Corresponding with my fellow reviewers inspired me to keep writing and helped me improve my reviews.  As I said, the forum I joined no longer exists but I would highly recommend you actively search out one like it.  It helps.

Write What You Know

This may seem like an obvious piece of advice but you would be amazed how many people ignore it.  I have seen more reviews written by people who patently had no idea what they were talking about than I care to count.  Not only is this counter-productive but it tends to be dispiriting.  There is a reason you don’t know a lot about something and odds are that reason is that you are not interested in it.  So you will find writing about it boring.  And yet, I am willing to bet you are an absolute expert at something.  Probably several somethings.  Perhaps you are a lawyer.  If so, maybe you should write about mysteries that involve the law.  Perhaps you have kids.  If so, I bet you are an expert on toys and kids’ movies.  Or maybe you work in the healthcare industry.  If so, you may know a lot about statistics and coding—and amazon sells a lot of books on both subjects.

Don’t Assume Everyone Knows What You Do

You know those jargon-filled papers that are written for industry insiders only?  That’s an excellent example of what your review should not be.  Perhaps you know a lot about golf and decide to review an electronic putting system.  Take my advice and don’t fill your review with technical jargon only a fellow golfer will understand.  First of all, doing so will make your review seem pretentious—and who wants to be talked down to?  And most importantly, odds are you are not writing this for your fellow golfers.  You are probably writing for the golfer’s significant other—who may or may not know a lot about golf but who wants to know whether this golf product is any good.

Talk To Your Audience

This is a review, not a college paper.  You don’t need to impress an overbearing professor; you need to talk to your readers.  Just as you would to a friend.  So don’t use long words and sentences, don’t get caught up in grammar.  Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes.  Ask yourself, what do they need to know?  Are you reviewing a dietary supplement?  You may want to mention is how easy it is to swallow, what the primary ingredients are, and how long it takes to really know whether it works.  Are you reviewing a history book?  Is the history the author tells accurate?  Is the book easy to read?

Most Important

Don’t give up.  You know the saying, “Rome was not built in a day”?  Well, it’s the same with reviews.  Manufacturers and publishers won’t notice you overnight.  Amazon executives won’t wake up tomorrow and discover your wonderful work.  It will take time.  So be patient.  And in the meantime—keep writing.

Good luck.

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